Q: My entire home is from Ikea, so it is with great reservation that I ask, is plywood and particle board toxic? And how should a family on a budget avoid buying furniture made with it?

A: I love Ikea…they make some fantastic products, including an all natural latex mattress that’s affordable! First, be aware that most tables, chairs, desks and cabinets that are made of plywood or particle board have been treated with pesticides and constructed with glue containing formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is a carcinogen, and inhalation of its vapors can cause headaches, insomnia and respiratory problems.

However, Ikea is making an effort to eliminate toxins in their furniture. It is owned by a non profit foundation called Natural Step. Here’s what they have to say on their website: IKEA is at the forefront of minimizing the use of formaldehyde in its products, including textiles (despite the fact that formal requirements for formaldehyde in textiles exist only in Japan and Finland).

I think you can feel safe with your choices and remember that it’s always a good idea to let new furniture air out if possible.

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Beth Greer, aka Super Natural Mom®, is an award-winning journalist, green holistic health educator, healthy home expert and impassioned champion of toxin-free living. She’s also a radio talk show host, and trusted consumer advocate, who is leading a movement of awareness and responsibility about healthy homes, schools and work environments. Connect with Beth on Facebook and Twitter.